Jerry Does Japan
Two 15-hour flights, eight bowls of ramen, and 5,000 faceoffs later, I have returned from Japan.
This trip – my fourth to Japan, and first since 2019 – was special.
A lot has changed since 2019. Team Japan is bigger. They asked us about weightlifting and nutrition last time we met – and then applied that to their training regimen. My buddy, Toru Morimatsu, is now better known as Quadzilla. Their strength and skills have improved 200%.
Team Japan won the bronze medal in Birmingham last summer, thanks to Kazuki Obana’s game-winning goal in extra time. Their 19-18 win over Great Britain was no fluke. These guys are hungry to improve and to compete. As soon as they heard rumblings about PLL’s return to Japan… they hit the field together daily.
Field space can be tough to find in Tokyo. Faceoff guys drag a 3×3 piece of turf around. Their left foot might sink into sand or mud, but their right hand is on turf, whistle-ready. That’s just how they train. By any means necessary.
Different regions are defined by different styles of play. Americans are mostly two-handed split dodgers. Canadians are crafty, one-handed finishers. The Haudenosaunee play a creative, expressive version of lacrosse. Japan studies all of those skill sets. Their greatest asset: YouTube. If you think Michael Sowers, Rob Pannell, and Romar Dennis are superstars stateside, then you haven’t seen anything yet. Their stardom 10x-es across the Pacific. These are the pros whose highlights live on YouTube – and the moves that the Japanese are mimicking step-for-step.
Every single player is replicating somebody’s style of play. And they do it very, very well. Behind-the-back dodges? Sowers shows them, and they pay attention. This play is a microcosm of Japanese lacrosse. They are students of the game – and obsessed with the details of each dodge.